Kasey Chambers

Kasey Chambers – Keeping it real

“Thank you so much for speaking to me!” cracked the voice down my phone line. I’d just been connected to my phone interview with Kasey Chambers and these were the first words I heard! Hang on I’m meant to say those exact words as my opening line, and that’s what I said to her! “No! No! Not at all! I really appreciate that you want to speak to me and want to write about me and my new album!” Whoa this isn’t a new artist that is trying to gain an article for the first time; this is Kasey Chambers – a worldwide name! She has achieved so much in her career already and is showing no signs at all of slowing down! She’s taken on the country music heroes in both Australia and in the country homeland in the US and won! She’s bought in a whole new audience to country, and made it cool. Yet she’s so… so normal! I asked Kasey how she kept in real?

“You know what? I have a whole lot of people around me working with me and along-side me that keep me grounded. Whenever I start getting my head in the clouds and when you start winning awards and stuff which happens, and listening to the hype there is nothing like kids bringing you back down! They don’t care! They still want all of the kid thing – they want to be fed, they need nappies changed. Being mum is first out of everything. Music is still my love not every day drives me mad! I sometimes take the kids on the road, my two eldest are at school and can’t go on road as much as they want and I don’t tour as much now, and I don’t mind as I like being the school mum, I don’t always get them there on time, it’s very normal. I send notes off to school and forget the money; I’m constantly jumping in the car going back to school with the excursion money! I’m there in my trackies doing all of the normal stuff. There’s no glamour here!”

Kasey Chambers has achieved a rare thing; she has not only become a success in the country chart and become accepted by her peers. She has also had her music cross over into the mainstream charts, and chart in the Billboard Chart in the US. What does she attribute to such a success? “It’s never my intention to say I’ll try this style of music or I’ll try this style, I don’t care I’m just happy to be playing music in general and look to be honest if I put it down to something, timing has something to do with it. When “Not pretty enough” came out , it was when most of what young girls were hearing was superficial pop music and everyone wanted to be Britney and were feeling not feeling pretty enough, they were making a real connection”.

“I think back on those days and that album crossing over (Barricades and Brick walls), I didn’t go in thinking about it making an impact. I just wanted to make music, and it crossed over to a whole new audience and it’s the most proud I’ve been, and I’ve never turned my back on country and I will always respect that tradition. I’m proud of it and to make listeners come over to (inserts her best Darth Vader voice) the dark side. I love hearing people say to me that they don’t like country, but they like my music.”

Kasey’s new album Bittersweet has her trying a new approach. “Oh Grace”, sees her writing with the banjo for the first time. “All my life I’ve written most of my songs on guitar, but I’m a really limited guitarist I felt I was writing the same thing over and over. I’m still trying to get head around the banjo, I only know 4 chords. I love playing it and really enjoyed writing on it. It gave me a new sound and a new headspace and I was going back to the roots of the music I was influenced by. I can only play one or two songs on it in the set. After that I put it away as that’s all I know! I really want to keep working on it and learn some more”

Entering the studio this time bought on a different perspective, without Kasey’s brother Nash producing. I asked Kasey whether there were any challenges faced in the recording process when you thought “oh wow what have I done?” “I certainly have no negative challenges; I took the view that I thought wow that’s a bit out there. It was a bit of a different perspective and new; a different side of me.”

Nick DiDia, (Rage Against the Machine, Stone Temple Pilots, Karnivool) is the producer of Kasey’s new album Bittersweet. Keeping with her true formula, the album was recorded live in 7 days in April this year. “He’s amazing and he was a suggestion from Nash, my brother. It was Nash’s idea to use someone different – probably getting sick of me ha-ha! He had always admired Nick’s work and I didn’t know much about Nick’s background and Nash said ‘you know what we should meet with this guy’ and I always had this thing that I needed to connect personally before handing over my babies (songs), we met Nick and knew this was the guy! We connected right there on that first day.”

Bittersweet contains many directions in lyrical meaning. I asked about the direction of the album. “I try not to think about what people think expect from me and I do my thinking on what suits me at the time and to show who I am, and this album is such a good representation of who I am right now.”

The album also contains a cameo from Bernard Fanning, but instead of just playing the rhythm guitar as he was bought in to do, it turns out he became a lot more. “Bernard Fanning, I owe so much to him for this album he played all acoustics, harmonica, rhythm guitar, co-wrote the title track – there is so much of him in this album and above all of that he is one of my favourite people. He is a beautiful person in his approach to music and life – a real down to earth person. Oh my god so many people get so caught up in the industry, and he has so many of his own successes and for him to be just the person he is just impresses me and inspires me so much. He is such a beautiful family man with a gorgeous wife and beautiful kids.

Kasey returns to NQ to play The Venue Townsville on Fri 26th Sept and Musica Botanica under the stars at the Cairns Botanical Gardens on Sunday the 28th of September. What is Kasey hoping to bring to the NQ shows?

“I’ll be promoting the new album and playing new songs but I can’t help myself I’ll end up playing all the old songs. I still love playing “The Capitan”, it is my favourite song and I’m still not sick of it. I can’t imagine not doing “Not pretty enough”. either. I’ll play them all!

Cherie Kitto

Kasey’s North Queensland Bittersweet tour dates:-

The Venue in Townsville on Fri 26th Sept – Tickets via Ticketek

Cairn sBotanical Gardens in Cairns  on 28th Sun Sept – Tickets via Ticketlink

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